Ready or Not: Can You Pay My Bills?

“The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt.”

You don’t need to be single to learn basic life skills every adult should know. However, being single means juggling responsibilities that married folks tend to split between each other. How often do you feel like you’re responsible for remembering to do everything? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help?

I ask myself these questions all the time as I learn to navigate the world of adulting solo. Thankfully, my father was always just a phone call away. If I ever needed guidance about something, he is my go-to person.

Nevertheless, there are definitely aspects of growing up that are not one-size-fits-all. Let’s take paying bills. Financial literacy is not often taught in schools. The lack of education can keep those from marginalized communities in perpetual cycles of debt. While I am not a financial coach, I would like to offer some tips I’ve learned for myself and from the varying journeys of those in my community. Although the names have been changed to protect their privacy, the stories remain the same. There are several approaches you can take, depending on your personality and lifestyle preference.

Managing my money!

“To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay.”

Rosalind knows she is not the most organized person on the planet. She sets reminders for her reminders so that she doesn’t forget to do things. After being assessed late fee after late fee for missed utility bill and car note payments, she finally decided to do something about her obvious challenges. The problem wasn’t that Rosalind didn’t have enough money in the bank to pay for these services—no, she was just terrible at remembering the due dates for her monthly financial obligations. To help bring order to her life, Rosalind contacted her various service providers to sign up for automatic bill pay. Rosalind gave her banking information and authorization to the different companies so that they could debit her charges without her ever having to worry about another missed payment. After a few months of being on automatic bill pay, Rosalind noticed that the collection calls stopped, she no longer received late fees, and her credit score began to rise. It was as simple as that.

Making it rain!

Alyssa is crushing the adulting game. She knows what she wants, how to get it, and never let’s anyone stop her from pursuing her dreams. She prides herself on being punctual, organized, and competent. When it comes to paying her bills, she has a system that has yet to fail her. On the 15th and 27th of each month, Alyssa sits down to pay her bills. On the 15th, she pays the expenses due before the end of the month, like her car insurance. Then, on the 27th, she pays her bills for the upcoming month, like her rent. Alyssa never wants to be caught off guard by a surprise bill, so she does this to minimize that possibility. Her payment schedule also allows her to establish a reputation with her creditors. If ever on the off chance she misses a bill, she knows they will be more gracious because they can see how methodical her payment history has been. That way, they would offer to waive any penalties or fees without her even asking.

Nice, organized manner

I would say my bill pay method borrows bits and pieces from Rosalind and Alyssa. Like Rosalind, I use automatic bill pay for some monthly expenses. To maximize on certain savings discounts, I set my student loan repayment as automatic withdrawals through one financial institution. I also have my car insurance and sponsored child payment automatically withdrawn because those costs are fixed and always available in the account they are linked to. Much like Alyssa, I take time to list all my expenses for the month and cross them off as they are paid. I’m not comfortable having larger transactions, like my car payment, automatically debited from my bank account. I would rather go into the payment portals and manually make those payments myself.

What about you? Do you find that you prefer paying your bills yourself? Or are you the type of person who prefers to have an app or program that pays your bills for you through automatic withdrawals? If you belong to the former group, what is your system? If you’re part of the latter group, what apps can you recommend? Share your wisdom with our community!

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